Exceedances in pesticides are on the increase right across Co. Cavan, with a number of incidents identified in June and July of this year, according to Irish Water.

Exceedances were reportedly detected in the: Belturbet Public Water Supply (3); Killeshandra Public Water Supply (3); Cavan Regional Water Supply Scheme (3); Ballyjamesduff Regional Water Supply Scheme (1); Arvagh Public Water Supply (2); and Gowna (1) during the two-month period.

Efforts to reduce the incidence of these detections are being coordinated by the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG).

These latest exceedances in Co. Cavan follow on from previous exceedances noted in 2017 in the: Belturbet Public Water Supply; Cavan Regional Water Supply Scheme; Ballyjamesduff Regional Water Supply Scheme; Killeshandra Public Water Supply; Arvagh Public Water Supply; and Gowna.

As well as this, low-level detections were noted in many other supplies, Irish Water added.

Spraying season

Commenting ahead of the 2018 spraying season, Dr. Pat O’Sullivan, Irish Water’s regional drinking water compliance specialist, said: “Irish Water is continuing its extensive investment programme to improve water and wastewater services in Ireland.

“Providing safe, clean drinking water for all is our first priority. In Ireland, the majority (82%) of drinking water supplies come from surface-water sources – water from rivers, lakes and streams.

Such supplies are vulnerable to contamination from land and animal run-off.

Meanwhile, Dr. Aidan Moody – chair of NPDWAG – added: “The continued engagement of all stakeholders, working in partnership, is needed to tackle this issue.

“Users of pesticides should make sure that they are aware of the best practice measures that should be followed to protect water quality.”

Main offender

MCPA, which is commonly used to kill rushes on wet land, is the main offender when it comes to pesticide exceedances.

Careless storage, handling and improper application can lead to the pesticide ending up in Ireland’s drinking water – leading to breaches of the drinking water regulations, Irish Water explained.

It added that a single drop of pesticide can breach the drinking water limit in a small stream for up to 30km.

The basic steps in reducing pesticide risks are as follows:
  • Choose the right pesticide product;
  • Read and follow the product label;
  • Determine the right amount to purchase and use;
  • Don’t spray if rain or strong wind is forecast in the next 48 hours;
  • Make sure you are aware of the location of all nearby water courses;
  • Comply with any buffer zone specified on the product label to protect the aquatic environment. Mark out the specified buffer zone from the edge of the river or lake or other water course;
  • Never fill a sprayer directly from a water course or carry out mixing, loading or other handling operations beside a water course;
  • Avoid spills, stay well back from open drains and rinse empty containers 3 times into the sprayer;
  • Store and dispose of pesticides and their containers properly.